`Chance of Meatballs' tops weekend box-office

NEW YORK (AP) - September 20, 2009 Sony's 3-D animated family comedy was adapted from the popular 1978 children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett. Despite schools being back in session, the film still was able to draw kids and their parents to the multiplexes.

"The meatballs have cleared, so to speak," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. "It really is a feature where everything aligned perfectly."

That's good news for other adaptations of classic children's books on the horizon, namely the much anticipated big screen version of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." The Spike Jonze directed adaptation will be released Oct. 16.

"It really does pave the way for a really strong opening for that film," said Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "It's such a beloved book that the anticipation is really high."

He added that the strength of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" showed that 3-D is proving to be a significant draw for moviegoers. The film also was released on IMAX at 127 venues, which accounted for $2.5 million, or 8 percent of its box-office.

Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant!" came in second with $10.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. That was slightly better than expected for the Warner Bros. comedy, which stars Matt Damon as a bipolar whistle blower.

Last week's box-office topper, Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," saw a 57 percent drop for Lionsgate. It still earned $10 million, good enough for third place. That brought its cumulative total to $37.9 million.

Jennifer Aniston's "Love Happens" (Universal) came in fourth with $8.5 million, suggesting that audiences may be tiring of the actress in romantic comedies. It's her third film this year.

Coming in a distant fifth was "Jennifer's Body," the R-rated horror film written by Diablo Cody, the scribe of "Juno" fame. It earned just $6.8 million for 20th Century Fox. "Jennifer's Body" is viewed most significantly as a test of its star, Megan Fox, to headline a movie.

"You always hope for more, but it's a modestly budgeted film that will ultimately be profitable for us," said Chris Arons

on, senior vice president of domestic distribution for Fox. Dergarabedian said the number was somewhat low for what looked like "a fan boy's dream," but said the R-rating and niche potential of "Jennifer's Body" wasn't ideal for a coming-out party for the actress.

"It may be a matter of just choosing the right projects for her," said Dergarabedian. "She's trying to find a world beyond `Transformers,' and she will. She's young and has a lot of promise."

On the whole, it was an "up" weekend for Hollywood, said Dergarabedian. The weekend's total box-office gross was approximately $100 million, which compares favorably with the $88 million that was made on the corresponding weekend last year.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Tuesday.

1. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," $30.1 million. 2. "The Informant!" $10.5 million. 3. "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," $10 million. 4. "Love Happens," $8.5 million. 5. "Jennifer's Body," $6.8 million. 6. "9," $5.5 million. 7. "Inglourious Basterds," $3.6 million. 8. "All About Steve," $3.4 million. 9. "Sorority Row," $2.5 million. 10. "The Final Destination," $2.4 million. ---

On the Net:

http://www.hollywood.com/boxoffice ---

Universal Pictures and Focus Features are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Rogue Pictures is owned by Relativity Media LLC; Overture Films is a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp.

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